Thursday, 3 November 2011

I rescue books,

specifically books for children. I know that books go out of print and I know that library shelves cannot hold all the books they should. Books have to be rescued. There are some books some children need to know about. There are other books that simply should not be lost.
I find them in secondhand bookshops, in charity shops, on stalls or at "garage" or "boot" sales.
Sometimes people give them to me. They know they will be given a good home. They know they will be read again.
There are five units of book shelving in our formal living area. There are the equivalent of another eight in our less formal living area. There are five more in my bedroom, seven in my father's "office/study" and five more in his bedroom. All of these are double and sometimes triple stacked with books. There are more books stored in other places, such as "the shed". People say we have "too many books". I do not think that is possible but we do have many books.
Very occasionally we actually give some books away. My mother had books that we knew we would never use. There were quilting and embroidery books. She bought them with vague intentions of doing quilting or embroidery but, in the end, impatience got the better of her and she did other things. There were knitting books of the less valuable kind. I gave the books to people I knew would use them. Some of them went to a friend who runs a school teaching arts, crafts and basic business skills to women in India. They are used there - not for the patterns but to teach about design.
But I do not give the books for children away, not even the occasional second copy. They are too valuable for that. They are read by the local children. They look on my collection as a sort of second public library. There are strict rules about borrowing from me and I have not lost any of them yet although it always worries me to see a rare book go out the door with a child. All the same I know these books need to be read.
"Cat has really good books at her house" is a marvellous compliment. I wonder at it though. There are "really good books" at the library too. I tell young readers that. Oh yes, they know that "but these are better". I wonder about that too.
"This was exciting, you know - a proper adventure."
Television rarely appears in these books. Computers do not get mentioned. There are "stay-at-home" mothers. The children in them wander the streets unaccompanied by adults. Schooling seems impossibly formal and - horror of horrors - it is sometimes single sex, there are examinations at frequent intervals and the students say "sir"!
I wonder why children actually seem to like these books? They are, after all, out of print. They are actually supposed to be "old-fashioned".
I know there are some authors bringing out their own out-of-print books again - as "e-books". Perhaps we need more of this?


Sue Sedgwick said...

What a lovely idea. I think you're offering the children an adventure as well as a good read: actually finding the book. And it's an interesting comment on the question of the extent to which kids will take to electronic readers. I'm sure they will - but I think they will also continue to like paper books as things.

widdershins said...

I think it's great that thanks to the 'e' revolution authors will be able to re-release their own backlists and read the very well earned rewards.

widdershins said...

reap ... reap the well earned rewards!

Sheep Rustler said...

I have recently been passing on craft books that I no longer want, or that I find in op shops and don't want myself, to women in a craft group my SIL set up after the Black Saturday fires in Gippsland. Some of them lost a lifetime's collection of craft books and craft gives them all a connection that helped to keep them sane after losing their houses, and in some cases their loved ones. It is always good to keep books and read books, but sometimes it is even nicer to give them away.